Slip-slip-sliding away $4.99 From Loveshack, loveshackentertainment.com Made for iPhone, iPad Needs iOS 9.0 or later Framed 2, like its 2014 predecessor, is an elaborate pun. Its puzzles require rearranging comic book panels to create a path through a stylishly rendered Hong Kong; its scarpering protagonist has been set up to take the fall for a murder he didn’t commit.
Most of the game’s puzzles are about navigation. One early test, for example, asks players to reconfigure a series of boardwalks to avoid both a patrolling policeman and a pursuing attack dog – one panel out of place will often lead to capture – or worse. You may also need to reorder a set of narrow alleys, or untangle a maze of air ducts.
Over time, more complex ideas are layered into Framed’s central conceit: some frames can be rotated, for example, or used several times in one scene. Part of the trick is learning what our hero courier is capable of and how to take advantage – he’s not shy about knocking a cop out cold if given the chance, and he’ll climb or descend any ladder he comes across. In effect, the developer Loveshack asks its audience to play game developer, putting deliberately jigsawed levels back together.
Thankfully, Framed 2 does a better job than the original of communicating each puzzle’s goals and strategy. Entrance and exit panels of each level are now fixed in place – this keeps you from swapping tiles aimlessly and allows for more elaborate puzzles as a result. Where the first game’s concepts felt half-baked, the follow-up is robust and well realized.
For a game that toys so effectively with comic book conventions, Framed 2 is narratively sparse. There’s no dialog or exposition, leaving stylish design, fluid animation, and recognizable noir archetypes to set the scene while puzzles push the action forward. Framed 2 does enough to establish its prequel relationship to the original without diluting its focus on tight, clever puzzles. THE BOTTOM LINE. Framed 2 takes the original’s concept and improves on it in every meaningful way.
Exiting through the green door seems simple enough, but you’ll need all the tools at your disposal to get there.
It’s the end of another honest day’s work in Hong Kong.